Well over 5,000 Micro vehicles, the sole locally manufactured vehicles currently, are on Sri Lankan roads, and have proved to be safe, with records of no fatal accidents to date.
With changing times and attitudes, the company has increased its production capacity to meet with growing market demand locally as well as overseas.
But a little over a decade ago Sri Lanka would never have dreamed of laying claim to locally manufactured cars and SUVs that are on par-if not exceed the quality standards set by foreign import counterparts.
The Sri Lanka car industry 12 years ago was on a different footing altogether, one that involved a terrorist war and adverse attitudes to anything local.
Micro Cars Ltd. founder, Chairman and CEO Dr. Lawrence Perera the country’s first and currently the sole car manufacturer, recalls those troubled and uncertain times like they were yesterday.
Having launched Sri Lanka’s first car, the Micro in 1999, which was designed, developed and prototyped locally, he admits that the going was rough at the start, considering he entered a market that has been dominated by imports for the past 80 years.
But the organization’s vision, principals and goals seldom wavered and remain the same today as it did, back in 1999. An automobile engineer by profession and having been in the industry for over 30 years, Perera’s vision of creating better vehicle infrastructure, is still alive and kicking, and has evolved.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader in an exclusive interview, he explained, “The whole purpose was to provide a national car that is a safer, economical, eco friendly and affordable for the everyday man, by offering the most safest compact car on the road today named “micro panda,” meeting to European safety standards with features such as EPS, ABS/EBD, airbags and side impact beams on all four doors.
Today our focus is to provide transport solutions to improve our public transport system, to make it a decent, comfortable mode of transport with air conditioned luxury coaches for long distance and low floor city buses, which will also meet to international road safety standards, with features such as ABS/EBD, air suspension and electric retarder.
Starting with the Micro TREND at entry point, the first locally manufactured vehicle with a four cylinder and 1000cc engine that costs just Rs. 1.2 million is ideal for a family and is crafted to take on bumpy roads and “stop and go” driving conditions. Basic features include central locking, power steering, power shutters and alloy wheels. The car is compact enough to adapt to dwindling parking space without sacrificing interior space designed by Italy’s Pinifarina and Hafei Motor, the Micro PANDA with 1300 cc is a combination of style, comfort, safety and performance. It also meets the Euro III emission standards. The Micro PANDA is engineered for more power and out-of-town distance driving with good climbing ability. Perera also claims Micro PANDA to be the “safest” small car on the road with dual air bags, ABS/EBD and ranking 4 stars in rating for crash test.
The fourdoor Micro Sedan with 1500cc is the Micro family car range’s newest member. This is a mid-sized car with luxury interior and features and is priced below Rs. two million.
On the other hand the Micro Rexton II has evolved into one of Sri Lanka’s best SUVs. Whether it be the state-of-the-art Common Rail diesel engine, its distinctive and prestigious appearance, or its very impressive list of standard features, Rexton is hard to beat for style, practicality and value for money.
In boasting collaboration with Ssangyong, with Mercedes technology for their engines and transmissions, Geely which acquired full control of Volvo car corporation has strengthened Micro cars in Sri Lanka position, gaining the full range from compact car to Sedan and SUV class, further recognition as the safer option on the road.
On the topic of success stories, Perera goes back to text book basics in being a born “believer” in his idea, a positive thinker and also in maintaining morals throughout his journey into business. He said, “Most times it’s about doing the right thing and the good thing not just by you and your company, but by the public’s interest. We’re still committed to the goal of providing better public transport and are currently working on a project to assemble quality busses with decent seating arrangements with passenger safety and comfort in a real bus structure than what we have now on our roads.”
Today Micro car is recognized in the international automobile industry and has come a long way since its beginning; having gained confidence from top automobile giants and for such companies to look at Sri Lanka’s Micro car, and to transfer its technology on automobile assembly.
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